There is a great deal of talk going around about an upcoming fuel and food shortage. I don’t know if there is solid validity for that prediction, however, looking at the way the economy has been going there may be credibility to those predictions. For months I have been preserving food for storage just in case. My thinking has always been that it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Today I will share a simple method of dehydrating foods for storage with a minimal investment.
First let me explain why I dehydrate instead of freeze or can. In the worst possible case scenario we may be without electricity, thus, all frozen foods would spoil very quickly. Canned foods are bulky and heavy to transport in the event one has to move quickly to an isolated area to protect your food supply. Dried foods are easy and lightweight to carry and have extended shelf life.
There is no need to go out and purchase expensive food dehydrators. I don’t own one. I use my regular oven. First you will need to go to your local hardware store and purchase wire mesh. Be sure to get the real wire mesh. Then make wire mesh trays that fit on your oven racks. Be sure to line your oven with tin foil! Dehydrating can make a mess! You will want to purchase a Seal-A-Meal and plenty of bags. Once you have these items all you need is the food.
I have dehydrated blueberries, cherries, apples, carrots, potatoes, onions, and beef. You will need to remove the pit from cherries before drying. Cherries (after pitting) and blueberries should be dried whole. Core the apples and slice apples, carrots, onions and potatoes to about ¼” thick. I rinse them in lemon juice to help prevent them from turning brown. I suggest you dry onions separately from other fruits or veggies as the onions can add their flavor to your fruit. Place them in rows on your wire mesh and place on your oven racks. Set the oven temp on about 90 to 100 degrees and that’s it. Drying time for fruits and vegetables does vary from a few hours to a day or more. After they are finished in the oven I remove them and put them in paper bags to sit for a few days to allow any residual moisture evaporate. Then I put meal size portions in bags and vacuum seal them.
Drying meat is a little more involved. Typical meats used for drying are beef, venison, goat, sheep, or moose, as well as some others. Use only lean meat and trim any fat prior to drying. Fat turns rancid and will spoil your meat. I like to cut meat into about 1/4″ thick strips, jerky sized pieces. Meats should be soaked in salt water brine (about 5-10 minutes) or rubbed with salt prior to drying. Do not use iodized salt. Salt helps to remove excess moisture from them meat and acts as a preservative. Oven temperature should be set between 60 and 70 degrees. Meat sometimes takes a day or longer to dehydrate sufficiently. I let my meats air dry a few days before sealing. Vacuum seal and date your package.
With just these few dried foods I can make a stew and have dried fruit for dessert, a good balanced meal. Of course I also purchase organic dry foods in bulk and vacuum package, such as, flour, pancake mix, beans, pasta, coffee, dry milk, sugar, spices, herbs, etc. My food supply also contains a good supply of organic heirloom seeds. If times get rough, my family will eat! And if the worst case scenario does not materialize, then I have a wonderful supply of easy to carry foods for camping and backpacking trips.